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Thursday, March 6, 2014

President Obama’s base betrayal of teachers, his concentrated effort to replace professional teachers with scabs.

I can say with a reasonable degree of certainty that President Obama was reelected by teachers in 2012. Teachers overwhelmingly voted for him and not like they did in 2008 because they believed what he was saying but because the republicans did not give them an alternative. President Barack Obama undoubtedly owes his presidency to teachers which makes his betrayal of them all the more grievous. 

His signature piece of education Legislation Race to the Top (RttT) has been a disaster. It turned education into a game with winners and losers, it stripped away local control, it doubled down on the high stakes testing agenda, something he does not let his own children participate in, hastened the proliferation of charter schools and has attempted to replace professional teachers with hobbyists, teach for America teachers who think to themselves, I will give that a try.

It’s the last point I want to address here.

Teach for America does the exact opposite of what we know to be best for our students. They take barely trained non education types and plop them down in our neediest schools. There they are supposed to stay for just two years before being replaced by another hobbyist who thinks, I will give teaching a try.

Despite this they are very popular with a lot of our leaders including Democrats who basically spit in the face of professional educators when they endorse or support them. Obama pays lip service to teachers. He wants our votes but instead of being interested in helping and improving the profession he seems to be hell-bent on ending it. 

I know what you are thinking; you have heard my rant before. Well I bring it up again because localities all over the nation are using RttT grants to pay for Teacher for America teachers. Cash strapped districts looking to fill hard to fill positions, instead of putting in the work to find professional educators are using this free money to bring in TFA.

People used to think that TFAers were brought in because they were cheap, well the truth is they are amazing expensive just the money comes from several different pots. Districts kick in some of their money and the rest comes from philanthropic interests most of which are anti-union and pro-privatization and the rest comes from federal grants.    

Teach for America teachers are also eligible for Americorps stipends and loan forgiveness to the tune of 5,350 dollars a year. In my home town a teacher costs about 65 thousand dollars which is for their salary and benefits. At the same time through the various revenue streams a Teach for America teacher in my hometown costs 95 thousand dollars.

In effect the federal government is saying it would rather spend a lot more on temporary workers than invest in professional teachers. They have such distain for the profession they would rather throw money away rather than help it.  

Paying Teach for America vast sums of money isn’t the only favor this white house is doing for TFA. In the last minute bill to save the nation from default the senate slipped in a provision to help Teach for America. That’s right some senator thought it was okay to risk the fate of the nation in order to help out TFA.

From the Washington Post:   On page 20 of this bill passed by the House, it says:
SEC. 145. Subsection (b) of section 163 of Public 5 Law 111-242, as amended, is further amended by striking 6 ”2013-2014” and inserting ”2015-2016”.

The law that is being amended includes the highly qualified provision, which Teach for America and other school reformers had persuaded legislators to pass a few years ago.

Under No Child Left Behind, all children are supposed to have highly qualified teachers, school districts are supposed to let parents know which teachers are not highly qualified, and these teachers are supposed to be equitably distributed in schools. They aren’t. It turns out that teachers still in training programs are disproportionately concentrated in schools serving low-income students and students of color, the very children who need the very best the teaching profession has to offer. The inequitable distribution of these teachers also has a disproportionate impact on students with disabilities.

It’s not entirely clear who got the provision into the debt deal legislation, but a good bet is Sen. Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat who is chairman of the Senate’s education committee and who is a big Teach for America supporter. So is the Obama administration, which has awarded tens of millions of dollars to TFA over the past several years. Administration officials have never offered a public explanation about why someone with five weeks of training should be deemed “highly qualified.”

Congress first approved legislation allowing student teachers and others with little training to be deemed “highly qualified” in late 2010, shortly after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the definition violated NCLB. In 2011 a coalition of  more than 50 organizations — including education, civil rights, disability, student, parent, and community groups – urged Obama in this letter not to keep the definition, but it did anyway.

So the Obama administration has made it easier for them to expand and paid them a considerable amount to do so which has led to their bank accounts and influence swelling.

This is also from the Washington Post’s Answer Sheet: Teach for America (TFA) is a well-established, national program with revenues totaling $270 million for fiscal Year 2011 (its most recent annual report). With total  expenses of $219 million, TFA’s net assets increased by over  $50 million and now total over $350 million. 

Jeb Bush, who also sent his kids to exclusive private schools, is nasty and hateful. He takes every opportunity possible to bad mouth teachers and their representatives and things like facts be damned while at the same time Barack Obama is complementary, he routinely talks about how important teachers are and how they are the backbone of the country. That however is where their differences end

Obama while speaking in very flowery language has been very destructive to the teaching profession and it is hard to imagine where he developed the disdain for teachers but his actions have definitely spoke louder than his words.

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